Sunday, July 03, 2011

Pajama Men - In The Middle of No One, Soho Theatre

I wrote this gushy little review for the British Comedy Guide...

A Pajama Men show is one of life's unadulterated joys. This is the second show I've seen by the flannel PJ-clad double act Mark Chavez and Shenoah Allen, and - just as with the first - I left the theatre on a glorious high, quickly rifling through my diary to see when I could fit in a second viewing.

The set-up is similar to their previous show, Last Stand To Reason, too. In In The Middle Of No One, Chavez and Allen again present a chronologically-skewed tale in which they play all the characters, with the aid of nothing but two chairs, a wonderful musician, and their own comedy genius; constantly and effortlessly jumping back and forth in time and between roles.

Some scenes drive the plot forward - when Chavez stumbles over his words near the start of the show, Allen shouts "get the exposition out!" with gleeful encouragement - some are just silly vignettes that allow these performers to show off. The story involves a very formal adventurer, child services, aliens and a time-travelling fraud, but frankly you're more concerned with the cutsie girlfriends chatting about their love lives and the rare bird with a 'come hither' call.

Sometimes the comedy is based on clever word play and an obvious love of messing with language ("I'll see your wife and raise... your children"). Sometimes it's all about their superb mime and physicality, with the two playing at being marionettes, or getting ridiculously up close and personal. Sometimes you just find yourself guffawing embarrassingly loudly at the phrase "sideways decanter".

Chavez and Allen appeared in particularly giggly mood this evening but is all that corpsing for real? I don't know, and because I don't know, I don't care - it felt special to us, and if it feels special every night then so much the better.

It's funny, but it's more than that. It's clever and sweet and you actually care about the multitude of characters you meet in this twisted tale. If this all sounds hyperbolic, it isn't - the Pajama Men are simply this good. I'd never say kill for a ticket (how hackneyed), but do what you can within the bounds of the law and common decency to get your hands on one.

3 comments:

Jim said...

I wish I could see Pajama Men at Milton Keynes Theatre, hopefully they'll grace us with their presence soon!

Free mp3 editor said...

Thanks for posting such an inspiring article, Anna!
In The Middle Of No One show sounds most intriguing. I love such kind of a performance when there are few decorations on the stage and nothing distracts the viewer from the actors' excellence.

free mts to dvd mac said...

In The Middle Of No One show sounds most intriguing. I love such kind of a performance when there are few decorations on the stage and nothing distracts the viewer from the actors' excellence.